EXCLUSIVE! Life by Ella star Lily Brooks O'Briant on how to live every day to the fullest

Lily Brooks O'Briant's motto? Don't be afraid of anything. "You have to live life the way you want to live it—without worrying about what others think of you," affirms the 16-year-old actress. "Do what you want to do and be who you want to be. Being yourself is the only way to live."

Where'd she pick up these amaze life lessons? Surprisingly, from her character. Lily Brooks stars as Ella in the new Apple TV+ series (premiering Sept. 2!) Life by Ella, about a teen girl returning to school after cancer treatment. We chatted with Lily Brooks *all* about the wisdom she's taken from the show—and, ofc, what's up next on this talented teen's vision board.

Girls' Life: Ella goes through a lot in the show. How did you relate to her character?

Lily Brooks: Like Ella, I used to be more of a follower than a leader. Ella wanted people to like her and not to think she was different or weird. But after going through her treatment for cancer, she realizes she doesn't want to be a follower—she wants to be that person that people look up to. I've tried to take on that perspective in life, too—to seize the day and always live life to the fullest.

Girls' Life: Is there something you feel like teenage girls worry about too much today that you're starting to get perspective on?

Lily Brooks: Social media. It's such a big part of teenagers' lives today and we worry about it way too much. I'm not saying it's a bad thing—but it's possible to get too caught up in it.

Girls' Life: What's your current approach to social media?

Lily Brooks: I try to post what's truthful in my life and what I want to share. Then after I post, I close out of social media and go do something else. I don't like to look at how a post is doing or what people are commenting. There can be hundreds of good comments...but it's that one bad comment that you really read into. So I try not to look at it.

Girls' Life: If you could spend one perfect day living life to the fullest, what's on deck?

Lily Brooks: I love working! I know that sounds crazy, but I'm happiest when I'm on set doing what I'm passionate about. I'd get up super early, go to Starbucks then go work as either an actor or a director. Then after work, I'd go watch the sunset on the beach and maybe even take a sunset trapeze class, which is something I love to do. Then I'd go home and have dinner with my family and watch TV.

Girls' Life: Trapeze is pretty cool. 

Lily Brooks: Once a week, I go to Santa Monica Pier and take a trapeze class and I *love* it. Flying through the air just makes you feel alive. You forget about everything else going on in your life. It's not something I'm incredibly good at, but it's something I truly enjoy doing.

Girls' Life: What's on your vision board for the rest of this year?

Lily Brooks: I actually have my vision board hanging right in front of me right now. The two things that are on there are acting and directing in movies and TV shows. I'd love to book a role in a movie. I also want to write, direct and produce my own film, and I'm currently writing a short film.  

Girls' Life: And what's your short film about?

Lily Brooks: It's more on the dramatic side. I feel like teenagers go through a lot. It's shining a light on mental health struggles and a similar experience to something I went through with my family. I haven't shared much about it so it's [a place where] I can tell that story.

Girls' Life: That sounds amazing. Manifesting that for you!

Lily Brooks: Yes! I'm hoping we'll start filming in the next few months and we can release it next year.

Girls' Life: Finally, what do you hope people heart about Life by Ella

Lily Brooks: It's a really incredible show. It's a comedy but also has dramatic moments. I'm really glad the writers weren't afraid to show those moments of sadness and anger. What Ella went through was such a traumatic experience for her. But she has this amazing mentality where she wasn't going to let one thing get in her way. I hope the viewers can learn from her—and all the characters on the show. Make sure to watch! 

Catch Lily Brooks O'Briant in Life by Ella—streaming Sept. 2 on Apple TV+!

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Image Credit: Kevin Scanlon.

by Katherine Hammer | 9/1/2022